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ATTACK ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING-An irresponsible and complicit City Hall has sat idle in recent years as 20,000 rent-controlled apartment units in Los Angeles have been destroyed or converted, forcing working class tenants into the streets, scrambling to find replacement housing while luxury units were built to replace the affordable apartments that have been lost. 

That was the story told in part by Los AngelesTimes in a page-one investigative report. “The paper did a good job of documenting the destruction and pain caused by this housing trend,” said Jill Stewart, campaign director of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative. 

“Unfortunately the Times did not go the extra mile and properly lay the blame for this tragedy at City Hall’s doorstep – as it should have,” said Stewart. “This is a crisis that City Hall has helped create because of its cozy relationship with the real estate industry, and it is a crisis that City Hall has certainly failed to correct.” 

Stewart called on Mayor Garcetti and the City Council to immediately place a moratorium on projects that will destroy affordable housing unless the new project will provide significant numbers of affordable units – at the very least replace the lost affordable units with an equal number of new affordable units. 

“Homelessness is spiking in Los Angeles as a direct result of City Hall's thoughtless behavior,” said Stewart. “Yet our elected officials have looked the other way for years as landlords and developers razed or converted building after building and wiped out our inexpensive rent-controlled apartments.” 

Since January, the Coalition to Preserve LA, sponsor of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative aiming for the March 2017 ballot, has challenged the frequent back room deals and votes by the Los Angeles City Council to place outsized luxury buildings in neighborhoods that were once affordable. 

The City Council has openly ignored critics who say the preservation of existing affordable housing is the only way to prevent a housing disaster and the spiking homelessness in LA. 

The actions and inactions of the City Council have set off a dramatic domino effect on block after block of Los Angeles: landlords jack up their rents and evict existing tenants — so they, too, can join the “luxury” density movement promoted and approved by City Hall. 

As the Coalition to Preserve LA has reported, all but one of 17 elected officials at City Hall are accepting campaign cash, gifts and/or money for their pet projects, from developers and the real estate industry. Since 2000, the City Council and mayor have accepted $6 million from real estate industry sources alone. This amount does not include contributions from an army of land-use attorneys and lobbyists who facilitate the real estate industry’s big-growth agenda at City Hall. 

In the face of this conflict of interest, Los Angeles city leaders have touted the wrong-headed idea that constructing luxury housing for the rich will help poor and low-income families. “There is no evidence to support this conclusion,” said Stewart. “Their argument is essentially that luxury housing will become over 25 or so years affordable. That’s no solace to families now who are being evicted. They need affordable housing now – not 25 years from now.”

The Los Angeles Times investigation by Ben Poston and Andrew Khouri notes: “The number of lost units is a fraction of the roughly 641,000 rent-controlled apartments in the city, but in a tight market the removals have had an outsized effect, tenant advocates say.” Most of the units were lost to demolition but some were converted into condos. 

Approval by voters of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative next March will end the most egregious actions by the City Council to uproot communities in favor of luxury housing built by their developer friends. But until voters put a halt to this, and require non-corrupt planning by City Hall — a core aspect of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative — the City Council should enact a moratorium to bar further destruction and conversion of LA's desperately needed rent-controlled units, according to Stewart. 

The initiative will impose a two-year moratorium on the biggest and worst projects that can be built only if City Hall provides developers with building exemptions and special favors. This time-out will give Los Angeles a breather from the current development frenzy now swamping LA’s streets with traffic, ruining neighborhoods, creating an environment of concrete and pollution, displacing working class families and overwhelming the city’s infrastructure. 

In addition, the initiative will empower neighbors to have a bigger say in shaping the community plans that govern growth in their neighborhoods. “Our initiative will help level the playing field so residents can have as much say or more say in how their communities are developed than the developers – who are now almost exclusively in control of the city’s growth machine,” said Stewart.


(John Schwada is a former investigative reporter for Fox 11 in Los Angeles, the LA Times and the late Herald Examiner. He is a contributor to CityWatch. His consulting firm is MediaFix Associates.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

 

BILLBOARD WATCH-Seven years ago, just a few days before Christmas, a construction crew pulled up to a lot on the north side of the 110 freeway in downtown LA and proceeded to erect a 60 ft. high, double sided billboard. (Photo above, left on Plumbers’s Union property.) Less than 50 ft. from the freeway in the Staples Center/L.A. Live area, its two 700 sq. ft. faces would broadcast ads for such products as fast food, computers, and financial services to nearly 300,000 motorists every day. 

City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, who brokered the backroom deal two years earlier to allow Clear Channel and CBS Outdoor to convert hundreds of their billboards to digital, was certainly no hero to anti-billboard activists. But on the day after Christmas he announced the filing of criminal charges against the owner of the construction company that put up that billboard and two others along the freeway in the same vicinity. Criminal charges were also filed against all three property owners. 

Everyone knows the wheels of justice often turn slowly, and despite the absence of any credible defense against a brazen defiance of city laws, those three billboards displayed a variety of ads to motorists for more than seven years. Just this month construction crews again appeared, this time to yank them from the ground and cart them away. (Photo above, right after billboard removal.)

Why so long? Suffice to say that lawsuits were filed, and with them a variety of motions and other tactics designed, it seems, to postpone the inevitable as opposed to resolving serious legal questions.

But all’s well that ends well. Or so it would seem, if one overlooks another fundamental question, which is: How much money did those property owners and the company that put up the billboards make by displaying ads for seven years to motorists on one of the most heavily-traveled sections of freeway in the city? 

In other words, what about those ill-gotten gains? One of the property owners was Local 78 of the Plumbers Union. How much did they pocket from what was, essentially, a criminal enterprise? And why shouldn’t they be forced to disgorge those tainted funds? 

That question is particularly relevant to that union, because it had been lobbying for city permission to put up a new digital billboard on that property. Just months before the illegal billboard appeared, City Councilman Ed Reyes had introduced a City Council motion to allow an exception to the sign code provision that prohibited any new billboards. 

That motion died in committee, ostensibly because such an exception for a single billboard could never be justified on legal grounds. Yet the Plumbers Union leaders, who certainly had full knowledge of this, allowed a billboard company renegade to come along and put up the billboard without so much as a shred of official approval. 

In short, we can applaud the City Attorneys -- first Delgadillo, then Carmen Trutanich, now Mike Feuer -- who pursued the ultimate removal of those billboards. We can also ask that people who profited from blatant nose-thumbing at city laws be made to pay. 

If you agree, we suggest sending an email to Mike Feuer (mike.feuer@lacity.org).  Something like, “Good work, but now go after those ill-gotten gains.” And be sure to send a copy of that message to your City Councilperson, because some political pressure always helps.

 

(Dennis Hathaway is the president of the Ban Billboard Blight Coalition and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at: Dennis@banbillboardblight.org.)  Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

 

BAD DEAL KEEPS GETTING BADDER--Now, this very week, is time for Time Warner to have a fire sale on its obnoxiously priced SportsNet LA channel, not just for the good of Los Angeles and Dodger fans, but to save its own hide. 

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EASTSIDER-In lieu of my normal straight reporting job on these events, let me just say my take-away from Tuesday evening’s DWP Reform Forum, organized by the Pat Brown Institute and CSULA, is all in the headline above -- after attending this forum, trying to put DWP Governance Reform on this year’s ballot would be a colossal mistake. 

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ANIMAL WATCH-On February 1, 2016, in my CityWatch article, “Has L.A. Animal Services Brenda Barnette Crossed the Line with Questionable Fundraising MOU?”  I questioned why a nonprofit corporation created by former Villaraigosa-appointed Commissioner Maggie Neilson, Global Philanthropy CEO, as a charitable arm for LA Animal Services, was registered as “The Los Angeles Animal Rescue Foundation.”  

On January 12, 2016, LAAS GM Barnette urged the Animal Services Commission to approve a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and stated the purpose is “…to support the work of the Department much the way the LAPD Foundation, the LAFD Foundation, the Library Foundation and others support the work of City Departments.”  

However, other City department “supporting foundations” clearly mention in their name the agency for which they are soliciting funds.  

So why wasn’t “The Los Angeles Animal Rescue Foundation” incorporated as “Los Angeles Animal Services Foundation” or “Friends of Los Angeles Animal Services?” Both were available according to the CA Secretary of State.

It is also perplexing that the Articles of Incorporation for ‘The Los Angeles Animal Rescue Foundation’ state: 

“The specific purpose of the Corporation is to ensure every animal has a home and that no adoptable animals are euthanized in Los Angeles.” 

While the official mandated Mission Statement of the Department of Animal Services, which is budgeted as a public-safety agency, is: 

To promote and protect the health, safety and welfare of animals and people.” 

Why would a nonprofit charity be set up with an idealistic statement of purpose not closely related to the realistic mission of the agency for which it purports to raise funds? There is a major difference between a municipal, taxpayer-funded public animal shelter which takes in all animals in need (regardless of condition or behavior) and a “rescue,” which is a private organization and can choose to accept only adoptable animals.  

According to the Board Report, Deputy City Attorney Dov Lesel had been working on this MOU with Ms. Neilson and LAAS staff “for the past couple of years,” indicating that City Attorney Mike Feuer is fully aware of this proposal. She also mentioned that it is supported by the Mayor.

So, if a Deputy City Attorney is preparing documents for a private company to submit to the City Council -- prior to instruction or approval by that body -- is he acting as counsel for the City or for the non-profit? And, what other City officials and/or employees have been involved? 

No accusation of wrongdoing has been alleged, but inquiring minds want (and deserve) to know.

To that end, on February 23, 2016, I sent California Public Records Act requests to City Attorney Mike Feuer, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Paul Koretz and LAAS GM Brenda Barnette, which can be read at CF16-0070 in the City Clerk’s file. Certified receipts show the letters arrived on February 25.

Those familiar with the process know that the agency has ten days to either respond and provide the information, deny that they have such documents, or ask for a 14-day extension of time. Councilman Koretz and Mayor Garcetti were informed that a copy of each of their letters was also being sent to the City Attorney as the City’s legal advisor. 

Not one of these officials responded -- including City Attorney Mike Feuer. 

Is it possible nothing was done in writing? According to Brenda Barnette’s report, a number of City officials collaborated and this is essentially a fait accompli. Could a several-year project simply have been conducted by phone, with not a single person writing a note or sending even one e-mail? 

Or did they possibly use private e-mail accounts -- a la Hillary Clinton? 

Although we don’t want to believe steps would intentionally be taken by the City to limit transparency, Jim Bickhart, former aide to Mayor Villaraigosa, sent a very rambling e-mail to the LA Animal Services Commissioners on January 14, 2012 which appears to be an effort to do just that. (Bickhart is now under contract to Councilman Paul Koretz as Speedway Policy Associates.) 

Jim Bickhart oversaw the Department of Animal Services and the Commission for the Mayor. He coordinated the appointment of animal issue-neophyte Maggie Neilson, CEO of Global Philanthropy, in April 2013 to replace the very popular, knowledgeable and independent Commissioner Kathleen Riordan  (who had recently been appointed to a new term.) 

I am providing the lengthy e-mail from Bickhart to the Commission in its entirety (below) to assure full disclosure. However, I direct your attention to the bolded areas (emphasis added)--especially the first paragraph, which begins, “You’ll note that I’m e-mailing you from my personal e-mail address.”

Then in a later sentence Bickhart writes: So I would suggest that you take the this [sic] precaution: If you don't want what you say to be subject to possible public disclosure, don't put something in writing to a public official's work e-mail account.”  

(Ironically, I received this e-mail in a response to a CPRA on an unrelated topic.) 

 

Note: All emphasis in the following e-mail is added.

From: jbickhar@earthlink.net
To: MRamsayer@gershla.comKathyARiordan@aol.comkittybuster@hotmail.comtariqkhero@gmail.comsecundar@unitedtalent.com
CC: brendabarnette@gmail.com
Sent: 1/14/2012 5:03:22 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: some notes on use of correspondence in the public sector

Dear Commissioners,

You'll note that I'm e-mailing you from my personal e-mail address.  I'm doing so by way of providing an example, even though I believe it would have been fully appropriate to send this to you from work.

Because of all the stir being created relative to your work by a certain member of the public, I am reminded that I owe you all an apology for a couple of things.

First, I apologize for not checking with each of you during your appointment processes to be sure you were not overlooking any paperwork-related situations that someone with an agenda might later be able to exploit in efforts to embarrass you. I don't think I have to belabor the point that in contemporary politics, there are people looking to say "Gotcha!" at the slightest provocation and a variety of tools have been provided to them for doing so.

Much as one of my jobs as a staffer for an elected official is to try to eliminate opportunities for people to do that to my boss, it's also my obligation to do that for those of you who are volunteering your valuable time, along with your reputations, to help us all try to do a
better job on behalf of the people (and, in this case, the animals).  By not doing that due diligence with you when I should have, I let you, and my boss, down.  So, again, I apologize.

Second, my other sin of omission was to fail to make it known that EVERY kind of written correspondence that emanates from or is received by a public sector official (elected or otherwise), is subject to public disclosure via either the state Public Records Act or the federal Freedom of Information Act.

That means your e-mails, memos and letters to anyone working in government are potentially subject to being revealed to the media or other individuals if they request it in accordance with the procedures set forth in those laws.  For sure there are limitations - usually comparable to those applied to evidence being excluded in court procedures - but in general we all need to keep in mind that anything we send to each other might end up being seen by people we didn't expect would ever see it.

During my tenure in the Mayor's office I've been subjected to no fewer than a half dozen Public Records Act requests for my City e-mails and other documents.  I can attest that it's a royal pain to be forced to comb through hundreds of e-mails at the behest of someone who's on a "fishing expedition" for one reason or another.  I certainly understand the motive behind these disclosure laws and support transparency in government, but I highly doubt that those who created these laws properly anticipated how they might be employed in ways that shed more nuisance than they do sunlight.

A key rule we in the Mayor's office are told early on is, "Don't put anything in an e-mail you wouldn't want to see in the newspaper later on."  It's good advice that I should have told you a long time ago (and should remind myself of way more often than I do).  Not that it's been a
problem with 99.9% of your e-mails to City Hall, but you just never know when that 0.1% might be sitting around in somebody's in-box when a PRA request comes in. 
Believe me, I know, because I'm a way bigger offender than any of you will ever be.

So I would suggest that you take the this [sic] precaution: If you don't want what you say to be subject to possible public disclosure, don't put something in writing to a public official's work e-mail account.  This doesn't need to apply to simple communications such as, "I can't attend the next meeting," or "Can you call me this afternoon?"  Messages that don't contain opinions or potentially problematic revelations are not the issue.  None of us really cares if someone else is bored (or disappointed) by them after they're disclosed.

As we've seen in the last few months, it doesn't take much for certain kinds of people to go out of their way to make you, as volunteers who are trying to do something positive, wonder why you bothered in the first place.  To be frank, I feel that way regularly, but I'm being paid.  You're not (at least not for this).  I owe it to you to do what I can to protect you from being placed in that position and I should have taken steps to do so earlier.  Once we've made an error, there's not much any of us can do to avoid taking some lumps, and our ethical obligation is to make sure we're treated like anyone else would be in the same circumstances.  So it's best to be doubly sure we're staying out of harm's way in the first place.

On that sobering note, I hope everyone is having a good MLK weekend.

Jim 

 

The Mayor, City Attorney, Councilman Paul Koretz, and Brenda Barnette have another chance to respond to my CPRA about the proposed Global Philanthropy MOU before any further action is considered. 

On March 23, a letter advising them of their Failure to Respond to the CPRA was sent and also placed in the City Clerk’s file CF16-0070. It provides the opportunity to rectify this matter promptly. I hope they will do so.

 

(Animal activist Phyllis M. Daugherty writes for CityWatch and is a contributing writer to opposingviews.com. She lives in Los Angeles.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

  

GETTING THERE FROM HERE-This is hardly a shocker, but according to a study by INRIX, Inc. the Los Angeles metro area has the worst congestion in the nation, and the second-worst congestion in the world (LINK: ).  Certainly, the "good reason" for more traffic of an improving economy (which is improving with lousy part-time jobs and not good career jobs, but improving, nevertheless) has a major role to play here, but we also have the "bad reasons" for traffic that must be addressed--and we have the ability to fix both of them.

The bad reasons are two-fold, and they are best addressed with the analogy of tying Transportation and Planning together as a form of "Mobility Budget", with Transportation funding being the equivalent of "income", and with Planning being the equivalent of "spending".

To the apologists at City Hall who defend unsustainable, environmentally-unfriendly overdevelopment for whatever political or economic reasons they can muster, this analogy is just silly, and with condescending contempt they'll want to pat us all on the head and deny the rest of us what is blatantly obvious:

WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH MOBILITY INCOME (more transportation funding for projects and operations), AND EVEN IF WE GET A RAISE, WE SPEND MORE THAN WE CAN EVER TAKE IN.

(In other words, we overdevelop, and develop in neighborhoods that have never, and will never, accommodate such overdevelopment, faster than our transportation improvements can keep up with).

So we need to get more income, and we need to spend better: 

  • Our best bet to achieve more income is the upcoming "Measure R-2" initiative this November.  In short, it extends the previous Measure R (half-cent sales tax passed in 2008) another 20 years, and creates yet another half-cent sales tax for 40 years.

Arguably, this is the "second half" of what should have been been the original Measure R passed in 2008.  It's not hard to conclude that former LA City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl was right in suggesting Measure R should have been a whole cent sales tax that was passed in 2008.

Unless, of course, you think that it's acceptable and A-OK for the rail and freeway fixes funded by Measure R to be completed in 2036 or later. 

Is this talk of Measure R and R-2 expensive?  YES, IT IS.

But it's paid by everyone, and it's the price we pay for having blown off transportation funding for decades since the 1970's.

Furthermore, we are getting more matching federal funding in ways L.A. has almost never seen--our "self-help" efforts have caught Washington's eyes and rewarded us grants and low-interest loans in almost unheard-of levels.

And if it turns out that the November elections will be between Trump and Clinton (as it appears to be), we will have not one but both major presidential candidates being as pro-transportation/infrastructure as any we've seen in decades.

On a final note, the need for operations and maintenance of both car-based and rail/bus-based transportation are as vital as any new construction, and Measure R-2 addresses that in earnest.

Yes, Metro is listening, and while we should be continue to hold Metro's feet to the fire it does appear that they are not tone-deaf.

  • But we need to control our spending--particularly in the City of Los Angeles, where being tone-deaf has been a way of life for the last two decades.

Unlike other cities, which respect their citizenry and taxpayers, the City of LA is run and influenced (controlled, really) by very wealthy and connected developers who don't give a rip about the citizens playing by the rules, and are supported by a host of "useful idiots" that dismiss discussion of transportation/planning balances as "NIMBY-talk".

Where else but Los Angeles would we see developers allowed to fund and influence the City Council to encourage and force LA City Planning to slam through prima facie bad development, allow them to get away with underfunding parking and other mitigation measures, and call it "progressive" and "transit-friendly"?

Where else but Los Angeles would we have transit advocates and bicycling advocates proclaim that parking is bad, but look the other way when no equivalent financial requirements for developers to pay for bus stop improvements, rail improvements, bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, etc. are appropriately funded?

Where else but Los Angeles would we have Planning and other City agencies ignore legally-mandated Community Plan updates to emphasize more density on major thoroughfares and preserve neighborhoods, and call it "progressive"?

Next spring, the City will have the chance to elect a better City Council, while also creating a Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, or NII, to demand that legally-required Planning efforts be taken seriously.

If the NII passes, Community Plans will be expedited, developers will be required to fund EIR's but not control who writes them and what they say, and an emphasis on legal and affordable housing will be allowed to start playing a role in the City of the Angels.

Unlike the City Hall developer/true believer types, who have all sorts of time and money to buy and influence City Councilmembers, the NII is a grassroots- and citizen-funded effort, with its primary focus on having the City of LA finally obey its civic, environmental, and legal requirements to its citizenry.

And for those wishing to donate to or be part of this historic effort, please go to 2preservela.org/ 

It shouldn't be too hard for anyone to figure out that our "Mobility Budget" needs more income and better spending habits. 

But for those happy and content to pull the wool over our eyes, and who are used to doing just that for decades, it's up to LA City and County residents to make sure that both Vision and Common Sense prevail.

Either that, or be prepared to hand these Mobility "income" and "spending" endeavors to the next generation or three.

 

(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee.  He is co-chair of the CD11Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at  alpern@marvista.org.   He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)

-cw

MY LA--"The City Came into Being To Preserve Life, It Came for the Good Life" – Aristotle, from the walls of the Tom Bradley Room atop City Hall, quoted by Mayor Garcetti in his opening remarks at the PBI DWP Reform Forum. 

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PERSPECTIVE-California has got its own version of a Runaway Train, a 1985 Oscar-nominated movie about escaped convicts who steal a train. It does not end well, as the out-of-control consist hurdles towards a violent end, with the lives of the convicts and their hostages at stake. 

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CA’s ‘FORGOTTEN’ RACE-The California Attorney General Kamala Harris has won a $1.2 billion judgment against the for-profit Corinthian Colleges for predatory practices that left tens of thousands of students with large debts and useless degrees. Students whom Corinthian had targeted for their “special characteristics” like "isolated", "impatient", "low self-esteem" folks "who have few people in their lives who care about them" according to documents Harris' office discovered.  

Does the case reveal any special characteristics of Kamala Harris? (photo right above) That's especially important since she's running for US Senate. 

She’s in the lead for the retiring Barbara Boxer's seat. In a race that not enough of us are watching, she handily beat out Orange County’s Loretta Sanchez for the State Democratic Party’s endorsement last month. 

Even if we were paying attention to this important election, education advocates know that an election for national office is not exactly the best venue to find out a candidate's stand on public education. With so little campaign emphasis on our cause, candidates’ actions and occasional words are open to interpretation. So what do the tea leaves say about Kamala Harris? 

The bulk of the judgment in this case is loan forgiveness for former students. The rest is to punish the shyster Corinthian and try to deter other profiteers from creating business models that prey on hopeful students. That's a good sign. 

The win shows Harris to be a fighter for pupils over profits, something that should help her distinguish herself to voters concerned about the privatization of public education.  

One of Harris’ Republican opponents is cringe-worthy to education voters. Ron Unz is a Palo Alto software executive whose interest in education stems from his effort to obliterate bilingual education in our state. He successfully championed the 1998 “English only” ballot initiative, which the state legislature has nearly finished repealing. This has so ticked off Unz that he decided to throw his hat in the ring for the Senate seat. 

So Unz can make some anti-immigrant noise, which apparently is a selling point in this reality-TV-based election season, though he has little chance of winning against either Democrat. 

The Democrats are having their own difficulty breaking through the cacophony of the presidential election. An LA Times article this week reported one third of California voters are still undecided in the Senate race that includes four Democrats. Harris polls first, ahead of Sanchez among registered voters and Harris’ take doubles Sanchez's among likely voters. 

There’s no poll of education voters, but if there was, this shellacking of for-profit colleges by Kamala Harris surely would put her at the front of the class.

 

(Karen Wolfe is a public school parent, the Executive Director of PS Connect  and an occasional contributor to CityWatch.) Photo: AP. Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams. 

 

Tags: Karen Wolfe, CA state election, US Senate race, Kamala Harris, Barbara Boxer, Corinthian Colleges, predatory education practices

NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--An email sent this morning to all registered candidates running for the upcoming Studio City Neighborhood Council revealed that Empower LA Elections Committee head Jay Handal had emailed registered voters’ confidential information to the existing SCNC board and council members. The email contained registered voters’ private email, passwords and sensitive documents such as driver’s license, passports, 1099’s, property and tax documents. 

The email leak was sent out Wednesday from Studio City Neighborhood Council incumbent Lisa Sarkin notifying members that there had been "a violation of privacy rights," asking them to immediately delete the documents. “We must not participate in this breach of security”. 

“It is concerning that the current reigning council would have access to all the online voters’ private information and passwords. They could have gone in at any time and changed their vote. This is why I and other concerned community stakeholders are running for this year’s council. We have witnessed and protested the corrupt actions of Lisa Sarkin and the existing SCNC committee, and want to be a transparent, fair and just voice for our community, not big developers and special interest groups.”  said Patrice Berlin running for the board position for the 2016 SCNC.  

Eric Preven, another candidate running for office says, “This is a serious breach of trust, verging on Electoral Fraud. We are demanding that the city investigate this matter and suspend the election until all of this is out in the open and rectified. Voters have a right to know that their private information and voting rights were compromised. Voters who have been notified of the breach are greatly concerned and are demanding that the City Attorney, election authorities and the Mayor’s office get involved.” 

In a second e-mail following the release of confidential voter information, Mr. Handal wrote: "The Studio City Neighborhood Council elections are documentation, they are online, and there are 7 ballots with voters able to qualify for up to 5 ballots. This scenario is unique to SCNC and the difficulties that voters are experiencing are specific to SCNC." 

Richard Welsh SCNC candidate for Homeowners seat says “After all I have seen and read on this topic, I can only conclude that the system for voter qualification as established by the SCNC is fatally flawed. 

The fact that confidential evidence is required to prove voter eligibility inherently creates a situation where an election under this system cannot be fairly and transparently administered. 

It is my strong feeling that the election should be postponed indefinitely until which time an emergency task force can be convened to reestablish the parameters of the process using a more conventional and inclusive model as should be readily available in the form of other Neighborhood Council procedures.” 

For more information on Studio City Neighborhood Empowerment go to www.ourstudiocity.org

 

If you have registered for on-line voting and have concerns over privacy and/or election transparency issues write to: mike.feuer@lacity.org, jlacey@da.lacounty.gov, ayochelson@da.lacounty.gov

 

(This report was provided by Eric Preven, Patrice Berlin and Richard Welsh, all candidates in this year’s Studio City Neighborhood Council election.)

-cw

 

HERE’S WHAT I KNOW-(CityWatch reported this disturbing story … an example of how money blinds, how greedy green can overwhelm green parks and wildlife … earlier this month. This is a sad follow to that story.) The Make Good Group LLC, a marketing agency that bills itself as The Social Impact Company, is behind the three-day, multi-stage AngelFest that could bring 65,000 visitors per day to the Sepulveda Basin (photo above) this October, but not without continued pushback from neighbors and conservation groups including the Audubon Society. 

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PLATKIN ON PLANNING-Sometimes it is important to step back from the weighty city planning and environmental issues confronting Los Angeles to focus on the small, personal steps we can take to make LA a more attractive and sustainable city. This is why I want to focus on drought tolerant gardens, something the minority of Angelenos who live in single-family homes can act on. 

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